The University Masterplan!
I’m sure many of you have already noticed some of the significant alterations around the University of Manchester campus – particularly on Oxford Road with the demolition of the branded bridge near Blackwell’s, the improvement of the cycle routes and bus stop provisions and the refurbished Students Union entrance. These are however a small part of a bigger picture. The university embarked upon a 10-year campus masterplan in 2012, investing £1 billion, of which the aforementioned modifications form part. The idea is to create a world-class campus for both students and staff to include new facilities and buildings for teaching and research. With that in mind, to any prospective University of Manchester students, with an expected completion date of 2022, Manchester may well be worth shortlisting!
The list of individual projects is exhaustive so feel free to have a look at the masterplan site for more specific details but here are some of my highlights:
Fallowfield Student Village
For those that already study or have studied at the University of Manchester, Fallowfield is often represented as the student hub outside of the university campus and is certainly considered a desirable place to be located for many a student. The allure of living in Fallowfield is habitually why student houses in the area can often go like hotcakes!
Well, by summer 2021, the demolition of a Fallowfield staple and notorious landmark is due to befall the Owen’s Park campus, altering the skyline forever. The infamous Owen’s Park Tower is to be replaced by 3,000 low rise units of modern student accommodation - there won’t be a replacement tower it seems. But don’t worry Richmond Park, Woolton Hall, Sheavyn House and Ashburne Hall will remain. However, it appears that the proposed replacement halls are to be of higher quality than the existing structures. This is due to the campus regeneration aims of modernising the student living experience in line with expectations of both today’s students and parents, by enhancing landscaping and improving sports facilities. The tower, which was built in the 1960’s, is definitely, in my opinion, due for an upgrade!
Samuel Alexander and Mansfield Cooper
For Arts, Languages and Cultures students, the Samuel Alexander and Mansfield Cooper buildings are a fundamental part of the university experience. Not only humanities students, but I’m sure many of you will have set foot in the grand ‘Sam Alex’, with its ‘rabbit warren- esque’ feel.
With a slightly more imminent completion date than the Owen’s Park campus, the remodelling works include office refurbishments and creation of more suitable group study facilities. The proposed designs give some of the imposing corridors of the ‘grand’ building a more open plan and approachable feel. With both building revamps due to complete in the summer of 2017, the ‘freshers’ starting in September 2017 should reap the benefits of the modifications.
Even though Manchester, as a University City, does have grassy areas for relaxing and escaping the library for a while, there are plans to create a parkland at the heart of its campus. Brunswick Street – in between The Student’s Union and University Place – will be extensively landscaped. It is going to be the largest green space on the campus – tree planting, wildflower planting, seating areas, pedestrian and cycle paths! What more could you want?!
The University of Manchester Campus Masterplan appears to be filled with varying interesting and exciting remodelling projects, improvements and modifications campus-wide with an aim to improve student experience. Nevertheless, with a 10-year timeframe until expected completion, it can certainly seem quite disruptive for current students, but with average student numbers of circa 30,000 a year (undergraduate and postgraduate) the appeal of the university does not appear to have been tarnished by the disruptive works.